2022-05-13 03:29:08 By : Mr. Allen Seng

A lunchtime newsletter featuring political analysis on the stories driving the day.

with research by Caroline Anders

A lunchtime newsletter featuring political analysis on the stories driving the day.

Welcome to The Daily 202! Tell your friends to sign up here. On this day in 1973, Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo walked away from prosecution in the “Pentagon Papers” case. Judge William M. Byrne dismissed all charges due to government misconduct he said had “incurably infected the prosecution of this case.”

Moscow’s conventional forces will take years to recover from shock military setbacks they have suffered in Ukraine. But Russian President Vladimir Putin may be more dangerous today than when he launched the expanded war to conquer his neighbor nearly three months ago.

Putin may be tempted to try “drastic” new steps to achieve his aims — which potentially require mass Russian mobilization to be successful — in what is likely to be a “prolonged” conflict with significant risks of escalation.

That’s some of what the Senate Armed Services Committee heard Tuesday from Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, who leads the Defense Intelligence Agency, at an annual hearing on “Worldwide Threats.”

Here’s what you need to know about what these top officials told Congress about the war in Ukraine.

His refocus on efforts to conquer Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region after failing to seize Kyiv are temporary, his ambitious strategic goals for the war likely have not changed, but now he lacks the conventional military power to reach them. So he’ll have to compensate.

To salvage his plans, Putin may “turn to more drastic measures, including by imposing martial law,” turning more industrial production to his war effort, or escalating his use of force, she testified.

Russia won’t be satisfied with merely conquering Donbas, even assuming they can, she said. Putin aims to occupy southeastern Ukraine, connecting to Russia-occupied Crimea, and trying to build a land bridge to Transnistria, a breakaway region of eastern Moldova.

Ukrainian resistance has depleted his forces enough that such an effort would likely fail “without launching some form of mobilization” in Russia.

“As we’ve watched the Russians falter here and the losses that they’ve sustained, we believe that they’re going to be set back conventionally for a number of years as they try to recoup these losses and replace all of the equipment and soldiers that they have lost,” said Berrier.

(Interestingly, this makes it sound like Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s controversial late-April expression of hope Russia will be so “weakened” by the conflict it cannot invade other neighbors may be coming true. A top French military official recently said something similar.)

Haines talked up unprecedented economic punishment of Moscow, whether through government sanctions or private-sector decisions to suspend business-as-usual. Russian inflation will run about 20 percent, and Russia’s economy stands to contract by 10 percent in 2022.

But, she noted: “Putin most likely also judges that Russia has a greater ability and willingness to endure challenges than his adversaries, and he is probably counting on U.S. and E.U. resolve to weaken as food shortages, inflation, energy prices get worse.”

Both Russia and Ukraine think they can still make gains on the battlefield. For now, at least, talks are out.

Asked about the state of the fighting, Berrier replied: “I would characterize it as the Russians aren't winning and the Ukrainians aren't winning. And we're at a bit of a stalemate here.”

“And even though they may not be as well trained and competent they will still bring mass and a lot more ammunition.”

“Data released Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics may give policymakers some nascent hope that soaring inflation may be starting to slow down, even as households continue to feel the pain. For example, March prices rose at a sharper pace, 8.5 percent compared to previous year, and 1.2 percent compared to the previous month,” Rachel Siegel reports.

“More Americans died from drug overdoses in 2021 than any previous year, a grim milestone in an epidemic that has now claimed 1 million lives in the 21st century, according to federal data released Wednesday,” Meryl Kornfield reports.

“A Colorado judge on Tuesday ruled that Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters (R), a supporter of former president Donald Trump who has embraced election-fraud conspiracy theories, is banned from overseeing elections in her home county because of her indictment for allegedly tampering with voting equipment,” Timothy Bella and Emma Brown report.

“The Hong Kong national security police arrested 90-year-old Cardinal Joseph Zen, the most outspoken senior Catholic cleric in Hong Kong and the city’s bishop emeritus, along with at least three others on Wednesday for their involvement in a humanitarian relief fund, according to lawyers involved in the case,” Theodora Yu reports.

“Ukraine’s prosecutor general announced that a 21-year-old Russian soldier in custody will be the first to stand trial for an alleged war crime during Russia’s invasion. Vadim Shishimarin is accused of killing an unarmed 62-year-old civilian by the side of a road in a village in the Sumy region of northeastern Ukraine in late February,” Rachel Pannett, Annabelle Timsit, Felicia Sonmez, Amy Cheng, Andrew Jeong, Ellen Francis and Jennifer Hassan report.

Follow our live coverage of the war here

“The 2014 raid on [Bengie Edwards's] home was a no-knock, one of the most dangerous and intrusive policing tactics, in which officers force their way into homes without warning. These high-risk searches were intended to be used sparingly. But over the years, police have increasingly deployed no-knock raids across the country, with little pushback from judges who sign off on the warrants,” Jenn Abelson and Reena Flores report.

“And in Monroe County, no-knocks were the rule rather than the exception. [Sheriff Cecil Cantrell], elected in 2011 on a promise to crack down on crime, waged a war on drugs for years in this rural community of roughly 35,000 residents. The same judge routinely signed off on no-knock warrants, including the one for Edwards’s home.”

“President Donald Trump wanted to court-martial two prominent retired military officers for their perceived slights and disloyalty, his former defense secretary Mark T. Esper alleges in a new book, the latest insider account to raise claims about the combative commander in chief and his attempts to upend government institutions,” Dan Lamothe reports.

“Justice Samuel Alito’s sweeping and blunt draft majority opinion from February overturning Roe remains the court’s only circulated draft in the pending Mississippi abortion case, POLITICO has learned, and none of the conservative justices who initially sided with Alito have to date switched their votes. No dissenting draft opinions have circulated from any justice, including the three liberals,” Politico's Josh Gerstein, Alexander Ward and Ryan Lizza report.

“Several current and former Fed officials have suggested in recent days that, in hindsight, the central bank should have reacted more quickly and forcefully last fall, but that both profound uncertainty about the future and the Fed’s approach to setting policy slowed it down,” the New York Times's Jeanna Smialek reports.

“Of those vaccinated people who died from a breakthrough case of Covid-19 in January and February, less than a third had gotten a booster shot, according to a CNN analysis of data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The remaining two-thirds had only received their primary series,” CNN's Deidre McPhillips reports.

“President Joe Biden on Wednesday will visit a family farm in Illinois to announce steps the administration is taking to lower the costs of farming and food,” NBC's Rebecca Shabad reports.

“The economist Lisa Cook was confirmed Tuesday as the first Black woman on the Federal Reserve Board in a historic moment for the central bank as it tries to stabilize a recovery that serves all Americans,” Rachel Siegel reports.

“There are now at least 22 pending lawsuits in federal courts across the U.S. on behalf of more than 80 parents and children seeking financial compensation for the trauma they endured after being separated by U.S. border officials during the Trump administration,” CBS News's Camilo Montoya-Galvez reports.

“I am considering dealing with some debt reduction,” Biden told reporters at the White House on April 28, adding that canceling up to $50,000 in debt per borrower is not on the table,” Time's Katie Reilly reports.

“Former president Donald Trump is flexing his political influence in this year’s Republican primaries, backing his favored candidates in hotly contested statewide and congressional races. Trump endorsed 4 candidates running in the May 10 primaries.” We are tracking all the endorsed candidates for 2022 Republican primaries.

“The Delaware State University women’s lacrosse team was on its way home after the final game of the season when its bus was pulled over in Georgia for what appeared to be driving in the wrong lane. But when deputies with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office walked around the team bus last month, the players and coaches with the historically Black university were shocked that authorities had allegedly turned a traffic stop into a chance for deputies and a drug-sniffing dog to search their luggage and belongings,” Timothy Bella reports.

“The incident, which was first detailed in a story by sophomore lacrosse player Sydney Anderson in the school’s student newspaper, the Hornet, came about from what the HBCU’s president says was a case of racial profiling against a team made up of mostly Black players.”

“New audiotapes have surfaced of Sen. Lindsey Graham, a known Trump ally, criticizing Trump and praising Biden after the January 6 Capitol riot,” Business Insider's Cheryl Teh reports.

"The tapes were played on CNN's ‘Anderson Cooper 360’ during an interview segment with New York Times reporters Alex Burns and Jonathan Martin. Martin interviewed Graham on January 6 directly after the riot, and the senator spoke candidly about then-President-elect Joe Biden and the former president, Trump.”

Biden will visit a family farm in Kankakee, Ill., at 1:45 p.m. to discuss food supply and prices and will deliver remarks at 2:15 p.m.

At 5 p.m., Biden will address the 40th International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) International Convention in Chicago.

Biden will attend a Democratic National Committee fundraiser at 5:50 p.m.

The president will depart Chicago at 7:40 p.m. to return to the White House, where he is scheduled to arrive at 9:55 p.m.

"For a generation of people who lived, worked, and grew up in the 2000s, the word “iPod” was synonymous with music. Escaping the sight of those white ear buds was nearly impossible. And despite the speed with which smartphones took over our lives, Apple kept making its digital media players without much fuss," Chris Velazco writes.

Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.